An Exercise Tracker That Doubles as a Real-Time Coach

Nike+ Training System

Sam Kaplan

Personal fitness monitors are great at collecting data but fail at providing useful interpretations. Users often have no way to translate speed, distance and calories into metrics that can help guide them to improve over time. The Nike+ Training system is the only monitor that records data, processes it, and delivers real-time coaching.

The system comprises a pair of sneakers with Bluetooth-enabled sensors and an iPhone app with preprogrammed workouts. During a training session, the app issues motivating cues ("Move faster!" "Jump higher!") to the user. After the session, the app breaks down the user's stats to help him spot weak points.

The Sneaker: Designers made the midsole of the Lunar TR1+ trainers from Nike's own lightweight shock-absorbent foam. They also reinforced the mesh upper with rigid Kevlar threads to make the shoe more supportive.

Pressure Sensors: A printed circuit with four pressure sensors sits on the midsole and underneath the removable sock liner. The sensors correspond to the user's big toe, ball, outstep and heel and gather data on every step.

Sports Sensor: The Sports Sensor adds distance and speed data from its onboard accelerometer to data from the pressure sensors and sends it over Bluetooth 4.0 to the Nike+ app. Users can remove the Sensor to charge the system via USB.

Nike+ App: To analyze workout results, the app uses algorithms that recognize movements. For instance, it could combine readings from the toe and accelerometer to calculate the height of a jump. At the end of a workout, the user can look over stats drill by drill and compare them with past results. If he took few steps in a shuffle drill, for example, he might focus on exercises to boost speed next time.